Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 13, 2012
Remember in fall of 2011 when Butterick released their collection of bridal patterns inspired by Princess Catherine and her fabulous wedding? If you were reading the blog back then, you’ll remember the post I wrote in great detail about the differences and similarities between the original gowns and the pattern versions. Butterick Patterns produced designs for the Royal Wedding gown , Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress, and the classic flower girls’ dresses (B5731 , B5710, and B5705 , respectively). These sewing patterns were beautifully reproduced with a few minor differences, and the photo stylists effectively made their models bear an uncanny resemblance to the actual Royal Wedding participants themselves.
You don't have to be royalty to dress like a princess!
But just recently, Simplicity has released a more loosely reproduced version of these patterns in what is quite unprecedented for Simplicity Patterns to design – it has been several years since they have offered any actual bridal gown patterns at all! While their terribly simplified version of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress is nearly unrecognizable, the Pippa-inspired corresponding gown and the enormous blue engagement ring make the pattern unmistakably a royal wedding pattern without a doubt!
I am not putting Simplicity Patterns down for producing a wedding dress pattern which is so very different and less elegant than the original Sarah Burton gown – I understand that many seamstresses who may have been intimidated by the “advanced” sewing level of Butterick’s design can now feel comfortable sewing their own wedding dress which is merely inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge’s attire. And I think it’s wonderful that Princess Catherine has so deeply affected brides all over the world that not one, but two major pattern companies felt the “Kate” phenomenan necessitated some royal dress pattern designs.
But the dress which I am really excited about is Simplicity’s version of Pippa’s gown! The pattern designers took the original bias cut gown which was a bit too slinky for my liking, and raised the neckline a good three inches to make it completely modest to wear. The Simplicity pattern is also not quite as fitted through the hip area, which would be much more forgiving and flattering than the Butterick version. Both the wedding gown and bridesmaid dress pattern are published in the same pattern envelope, Simplicity 1909.
With a family wedding looming on the horizon, I must admit that I am tempted to consider using the new Simplicity pattern in the upcoming festivities… But whatever dress pattern I choose, you can be sure I will change it to some extent, embellish it with Swarovski crystals and flowers, and post a dozen or so pictures when the joyous occasion takes place!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 9, 2012
If you are as much of an Anne of Avonlea costume fan as I am, I’m sure you will love my upcoming film costume project! Watching Anne of Avonlea when I was fourteen years old was probably one of the main things that got me interested in historical costumes in the first place, and it’s little wonder considering the fabulously meticulous Edwardian gowns this film is famous for.
There’s something so feminine and enthralling about Martha Mann’s costume designs that make me want to watch the movie over and over again. And with all those lacy, beribboned dresses, I don’t know how Anne Shirley always went around in such a depressed mood! How can you be completely “down in the dumps” when you have such a sumptuous wardrobe?
Look at those elegant blouses and skirts!
Anne of Avonlea Costume Trivia
Costume designer Martha Mann was perfect for the Anne of Green Gables film series, as she insisted on absolute authenticity right down to the petticoats and corset covers, and had in fact met Lucy Maud Montgomery herself as a young girl! Miss Mann’s grandmother was good friends with Montgomery, and had arranged for Martha to have tea with Lucy many years prior to the film’s production. No doubt this chance meeting in her childhood gave her unique insight into what Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters would have worn had they lived in real life.
Both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea films were overflowing with elegant blouses, graceful tea dresses, queenly Edwardian suits, and the most incredible evening gowns! I believe it would be safe to say that these two films have inspired more women to take up costuming perhaps more than any other period costume movie of recent history. In fact, while traveling with Sense & Sensibility Patterns’ designer Jennie Chancey in England, I was discussing with her what had inspired her to begin costuming, and her reply was – “Anne of Green Gables”.
Those leg-o-mutton sleeves are just gorgeous for Diana's traveling dress.
Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress
Since I love all of Anne Shirley’s and Diana Barry’s costumes I hardly know where to start, but a surprise find of 12 yards of peachy-pink bengaline moire’ (a rarity nowadays) launched me into the exciting project of recreating Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress. Remember that striking Edwardian gown that Diana wore for just a few minutes between her wedding and her departure in the carriage? I’ll admit that this costume probably isn’t as instantly recognized as others simply because it was shown for a short amount of time, but I fell in love with Diana’s dress the first time I saw it.
These pastel gowns were highly fashionable in 1902, the year in which Anne of Avonlea was set.
Throughout the years of “Anne” on screen, Diana Barry and her wardrobe were simply elegance personified. Diana (played by Schuyer Grant) looked so convincing as an Edwardian woman that if you saw a photo of her in black and white, you might think she had really lived one hundred years ago! Her bouffant airbuns, combined with decidedly Victorian features and a porcelain complexion, call to mind a “Gibson Magazine” cover. (In the second half of Anne of Avonlea, one of Anne’s students tells her the very same thing right before her departure to the ball.)
But before I ramble on for too long about how much I love these film costumes, I might as well show you the “pre-cutting” photos of my materials for this project.
I knew this moire' would turn into an Edwardian gown from the moment I laid eyes on it!
The bengaline moire’ is not as pastel as the film version, but it will probably show up better in the finished costume photos.
For the center panel of the bodice, I am layering pale peach voile over champagne colored Bemberg rayon lining. This panel has pintucks going down it and shell buttons for decorative purposes only (as it closes down the back).
With the main fabrics decided on, I have now chosen to use an Edwardian point
d’Alencon lace from my collection for the wide lace piece that travels from the
waist in front to a curved mock-collar in back, then back to the other side of
the waist in front. This lace is not exactly as “handmade” as the almost chunky crocheted style lace on Diana’s, but it was the closest piece I could find to suit the circular shape of the collar in back. Besides that, it was actually handed down from the Edwardian era, so this lace may have been worn on a dress very similar to this around 1900!
I have so many exciting details to share in the weeks ahead, and I will be posting regular updates to keep you informed on my progress. I would love for you to follow along with the construction of this gown, and you are welcome to add this button to your blog if you’d like to share.
I have dreamed for years of recreating an Anne of Avonlea costume, so you can be sure I will go “all out” with the photo shoot on this one!
P.S. All Anne of Avonlea stills are copyright by Sullivan Entertainment. If you choose to download these to share, please do provide a link back to www.edelweisspatterns.com since I did take all the film stills myself. Thank you!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 30, 2011
When I think of years chronologically, I tend to think of them in terms of how many dresses I sewed that year! In 2009, for instance, I was so busy preparing for the England costume tour that I only sewed one Regency gown and spencer jacket, along with half a dozen blouses and numerous “Liesl” dress prototypes. The next year I began with a time-intensive Victorian ball gown which took about sixty hours to complete, and focused much of my time on finalizing the Liesl dress instructions for printing in early 2010. That year also saw a dark green taffeta jacket, peach faille sundress, several lacy heirloom tops, and matching dark green silk Christmas outfits for my mother and I.
This past year tops them all, though! Besides sewing so many Liesl dresses it wasn’t even funny, I published the pattern for Baroness Schraeder’s Evening Gown in late spring and Maria’s Gazebo Dress pattern in late summer. But since it can be a little strenuous to only ever sew things for other people or for business purposes, I also took some time to make myself a total of five 1950s dresses, two crinoline skirts, two stretchy knit tops, an Edwardian gown, Victorian petticoat, and I altered an enormous amount of tops by sewing stretch lace into the necklines for a quick “mock-camisole” look.
But in 2012, I am hoping to be a bit more intentional with my sewing and blogging schedule.
Business wise, I hope to add the pattern for “Liesl’s Dress” in little girls’ sizes to the Edelweiss Patterns collection, as well as releasing the pattern for “Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress” in women’s sizes by summer. Ideally, I would be thrilled to publish “Liesl’s Party Dress” pattern in the upcoming months as well. I have studied the “Sound of Music” costumes for so long that it’s really hard to decide which is my favorite and which I should design next!
For the blog, my goal for each month is to write at least one post on a particular film’s costumes (I have a lot in mind!), and sew either a vintage/retro dress (1930s -1950s) or a historical/film costume each month. Of course I will also add some sewing how-tos and pattern giveaways, and I am considering hosting a sew-along for a new “Liesl blouse” design I concocted from the Liesl dress pattern (more on that soon!).
So here’s a little of what’s coming in the next several weeks:
Diana Berry’s Going – Away Dress
Remember that gorgeous dress Diana wore in “Anne of Avonlea” right after her wedding? It is by far my favorite “Anne of Avonlea” film costume, and one that I think I will finally make after years of admiring it. While I cannot find an exact match for the lace on her gown, I will be using some heirloom laces that were passed down to me from an actual Edwardian collection. I can’t wait to finish this one!
Butterick Retro Pattern 5708
I was so elated when I saw this new design! While it looks similar to Butterick 4790 (the famous “walkaway dress”) with the same “v” point seam in the bodice front and back, it is really completely different in the way it’s constructed. The upper bodice is cut on the bias, the almost rectangular skirt is gathered as opposed to flaring out like B4790’s circle skirt, and it has a hidden side zipper and shoulder ties. And best of all, it appears to fit the model much better than any of the previous retro designs I’ve seen. Most of the reproduction patterns have way too much ease in the bodice, but in a few days from now (when I finish my first version of this dress) I will know for sure!
I have enjoyed sewing during 2011 so much, and I’m looking forward the year to come!
Happy sewing and Happy New Year,